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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  13,062 ratings  ·  1,306 reviews
Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, amo
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Knopf (first published April 18th 2013)
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Martin Brochhaus No. It will more likely de-motivate you. It shows that life is terrible and unforgiving and even the brightest minds in history failed to find a good…moreNo. It will more likely de-motivate you. It shows that life is terrible and unforgiving and even the brightest minds in history failed to find a good flow. The only thing that seems to work is permanent hard work and a strict, never-ending, always-the-same daily schedule.(less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  13,062 ratings  ·  1,306 reviews

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Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Every creative person follows a different path to chase their muse, but at the same time some definite patterns emerge in the lives of these artists. (The people in this book are the sort that are known by just their last name — Proust, Darwin, Picasso, Descartes, Tchaikovsky, Pollock, Faulkner, Twain etc.)

Here are some things that highly creative people gravitate towards:

1. lots of coffee!
2. working hard but, surprisingly often for only a sh
Emma Sea
As Daniel noted, this isn't a book you read, as much as sample from time to time.

A few things seemed to be commonalities:

Work every day: don't wait for "inspiration"

The women all had to fit creative work around housework and childcare as well. Ugh, been there.

Avoid alcoholism!

Almost everyone struggles to get up as early as they planned in the morning.

Keep your day job if you are not already making a full-time living from writing - bonus points fo
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I love getting a peek into the lives of writers, artists, scientists, etc. to learn of their everyday routines. This book is not one to read straight through. I enjoyed the flexibility of reading bits here & there.
However, I have one major and one minor complaint. The major complaint is: where are the women? It seemed that 80 - 90% of this book was a sausage factory. Very off-putting. Inexcusable.
The minor complaint is one of author interjection. When discussing an aspect of Simone de Beau
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here's my daily ritual, for those keeping tabs:

My alarm goes off at 5:00 am, at which time I wake just long enough to take my medicine: Benzedrine. Then I "sleep" for another hour, until my alarm goes off at 6:00 am; at this time, I am ready to rock and roll. I spend 25 minutes in the bathroom doing various bathroom acts, and I'm out the door by 6:38 am to walk to my writing studio where my pet sloth, Salvatore, meets me at the door. (This is also where he left me the night before, w
Inna Swinton
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun book that you can pick up and put down at your leisure and still enjoy a lot. Perfect for reading on the subway! Also - I learned a lot about habits of creative people - both good and bad. Most loved coffee and had hours during which they cannot be disturbed by family members (if they worked from home). Most importantly - you can feel inspired because so many very effective authors wrote for only 2 - yes, that's two hours a day! Yes, they spent other time on business - corresponden ...more
Amanda Roper
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I certainly give this book five stars for how interesting it is and the level of research it must have taken to assemble the over 150 different “daily rituals” into one volume.


This book absolutely pissed me off and I haven’t sworn at a book in quite a long time. This book is a freaking sausage fest. There are over 150 creators profiled in this book and only 26 women are represented. What. the. f*ck? There are also very few people of color or from non-American/Euro
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.

A collection of interesting and not-so-interesting anecdotes about famous artists' daily routines. Spawned from his blog about writers' daily routines, Mason Currey has expanded his original into this book to include artists from all mediums, including writers, painters, architects, dancers, choreographers, photographers, and more.

Because these are simply retellings about a person's work habits, the format grows old quickly. One can only read so many "I wake up early and b
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated by daily rituals/routines people have, just like I like to see what their homes look like, and what's on their bookshelf/ves. This books compiles together routines from authors, artists, artchitects, psychologists, those of math/physics world and perhaps some others. There's much variety between how their spend their days, with some interesting details (at least two do handstands to help their work, one liked to look at cows and one liked to wash hands a lot and sing ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Neat little book!

It's hard, really, to review this. It's not a novel, more of a collection of information on how different artists (writers, painters, composers, mostly) came to create their work. It's a look into their daily rituals, an examination into what makes them tick.

A few interesting things cropped up. There are threads of similarities in a great many of the artists included in this book:

1. Coffee and alcohol are the fuel of the artistic mind, often b
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Like eating peanuts...I kept turning the page for one more entry, then one more, then one more.

It was fun to learn little details about the lives of writers and artists. I've always been a sucker for seeing how others live the moments of their lives.

My favorite lines come from Matisse: "Basically, I enjoy everything; I am never bored."

And William Dean Howells on Mark Twain: "There were few experiences of life, grave or gay, which did not amuse him, even when they wronged
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, art
"Discipline is an ideal for the self. If you have to discipline yourself to achieve art, you discipline yourself"

"There is no one way - there's too much drivel about this subject. You're who you are, not Fitzgerald or Thomas Wolfe. You write by sitting down and writing. There's no particular time or place - you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he's disciplined, doesn't matter. If he or she is not disciplined, no sympathetic magic will help. The trick is to make tim
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Probably the kind of book you should keep next to your bed, or, if you're that kind of person (and I am), in the bathroom, for occasional reading. A wonderful cross section of artists included here, from writers to inventors, architects to painters, and philosophers to composers. While there was a certain number of artists for whom Benzedrine popping helped get the work done, there we just as many who required nothing more than the same breakfast daily (eggs seem to be a favorite). I was struck ...more
Gregor Xane
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I love reading about the daily routines of artists and the like, so it was pretty nice to find this book. What I learned about the work habits of the painters, composers, writers, and philosophers covered in this volume is that many of them:

1. Drank lots of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
2. Smoked lots of tobacco
3. Took long walks
4. Popped uppers to get going and downers to get to sleep
5. Got up early for a few hours of concentrated work (and then dicked a
Michael Meeuwis
May 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
First, the good news: regardless of your writing habits (extreme activity, extreme inactivity, amphetamines), you will find an artist in here whose work habits--or at least purported work habits--agree with you. That "purported" hints at the book's problems, though: in giving a quick and shallow account of many artists, it makes the sort of extraordinary mistake of taking them all at their word. It feels under-researched. Also, you realize that all of these writers are--for the most part--drawin ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Trophic Compilation to Improve Creativity and Efficiency
3.6 stars

A good collection of daily rituals practiced by famous authors and artists to boost creativity and efficiency, a book that serves to confirm the divergency of human motivators and biorhythms. Some rituals were environmental, others seemingly innate, and a few disgusting, such as Thomas Wolfe's vigorous, virgulate, viscid and vile practice while writing.

Each of these ritualistic routines is a mystifying combination unique to t
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars - rounded to 3. I just didn't find it interesting enough. I found the book Deep Work by Cal Newport far more interesting. Different styles I know. Happy this was a library book!
Alain Burrese
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As an author, I found “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey thoroughly fascinating, engaging, and entertaining. I had a great time reading this little gem of a book. I would recommend it to any writer, artist, or creative person.

It's a simple book that contains over 150 short profiles of famous artists. Some of these may only be a half page in length, while the longest of them might take 2-3 pages. All of them contain interesting facts about the person being profiled, wit
Jayne Bowers
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I picked up this book and began leafing through it, the first thing I read was a quote by Phillip Roth who said,"Writing isn't hard work, it's a nightmare." Amused, I thumbed though it until I came across a sketch of psychologist William James who wrote The Principles of Psychology, a two-volume work often referred to as "the Jimmy." The founder of functionalism, James was a big believer in habits, so I was a bit surprised to learn that he "kept no regular schedule, was chronically indecisi ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting and eclectic collection of anecdotes, short excerpts, and passages, etc., on the various rituals kept by artists, describing the many ways they find time to 'be creative.'

I read those by writers first, of course, but then went back and read most of the others. Writers, painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, and so on, each have, or had their own way in which to find time to do their work. ('Cuz being creative is work.) Most creative people have to find other ways to earn a living b
Michael Wilson
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: creativity
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (Editor)

This book is a hard one to review because of what it is. This is a meticulously researched work on the work habits of writers, composers, artists and other creative types. He pulls this information from existing sources, biographies, autobiographies and personal journals. If you are looking for this type of detailed information, than this book easily could merit a five star review. Currey does a great job presenting this informa
Jul 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I don't enjoy a book, I usually put it down, but I hate-read this entire thing. As others have noted, women artists are nearly non-existent in this collection and live mostly between the lines as housekeepers, maids, and wives. Wives are depicted as dutiful listeners and typists who take care of children and keep the house quiet while The Male Genius is at work. Several wives are not even mentioned by name, including Jonathan Franzen's wife (novelist Valerie Cornell). A more accurate title fo ...more
Wanna be an artist? It's easy! All you need is copious amounts of stimulants/alcohol, a wife to take care of tedious chores, a few weird habits/pets and 20 million cigarettes. (On the extremely rare chance you happen to BE the wife, simply give up sleep and create all night long before resuming household duties, childcare and going to your job.)
Gemma Correll
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Good book, but 27 featured female artists out of a total of 161 is a bit rubbish...
Elizabeth A
Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, non-fiction
Book blurb: Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks.

This is a fun book to dip in and
Lauren Hawkins
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading one daily ritual a day and learning about some of my inspirations! This would also work great as a coffee table book in the way that it is intriguing enough for guests to take a look through. This book influenced me to create my own daily ritual!
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
As someone who works full-time and has kids, I've always struggled to find a daily routine that works. It was fun to see that brilliant and successful people often struggle with daily routines, too! It was comforting to see that there isn't just one *perfect* routine that leads to success.

I also loved seeing a little glimpses into the daily world of people like Ben Franklin, Sylvia Plath, Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, and many more, especially the women who had children. They all seem much more h
Aaron Ventura
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book contains 161 short sketches of the daily routines, habits, and rituals of artists that have lived during the last 400 years. It includes famous composers, poets, novelists, playwrights, musicians, painters, philosophers, mathematicians, and more.

There were two things that stood out to me in reading this:

1. I can count on one hand the number of artists who lived godly lives worthy of imitation. Most of them were constantly drinking alcohol, taking amphetamines, battling ins
Sebah Al-Ali
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-17
كتاب لطيف، مبني على فكرة أن حاجتنا للروتين مهمة جدا لكي نثابر على الإنتاج وعلى التميز، بغض النظر عن كونه روتين صباحي أو مسائي أو حتى خارج عن المعتاد؛ المهم أن تبني روتينا معينا يساعدك على الإنتاج ويساعد عقلك على التركيز والإبداع. يشارك قصص المشاهير، بكل المجالات، الذي أنتجوا الكثير وكيف كانت عاداتهم اليومية تشكل جزءا كبيرا من سر إنتاجيتهم.

قراءة خفيفة، مفيدة في أوقات الانتظار أو كراحة فكرية.


مما اقتبسته:

"It's [the book] about the circumstances of c
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Patricia Highsmith kicked off her writing sessions with a stiff drink to “reduce her energy levels.” George Sand was known to “slip out of a sleeping lover’s bed” at midnight to begin her newest novel. Nicholson Baker gets up at four am, writes for an hour and a half, goes back to bed, and gets up again at 8:30 and continues work for the rest of the day. Edith Sitwell likely did not lie in an open coffin before beginning to write, as has been widely reported. These are the types of vivid, wonderful ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it

Well I lost this book, it's from the library, I hope it turns up. I
read half of it ,it's simple the reader learns the daily habits of artists and other famous figures, such as David Lynch who loves a ton of sugar in his coffee and pie, Samuel Beckett, Knut Hamsun, Benjamin Franklin who sat outside nude on damp mornings, and a bunch more famous people, over 100 which I can't recall since I lost the fucking book!!!!!! and every single one of them drinks coffee!!!!! and most, gasp, are morning peo
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Mason Currey is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. His first book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, was published by Knopf in 2013 and has been translated into 15 languages. A sequel, Daily Rituals: Women at Work, is out now.
“A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.” 15 likes
“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” 9 likes
More quotes…